Abstract: We used spatial and statistical analyses to identify and prioritize broad areas for conservation attention in the northern Zululand region of KwaZulu‐Natal, South Africa. We attempted to identify conservation‐worthy areas based on species, vegetation types, ecological processes, and threats to biodiversity. Information on species was limited and so could not form the basis of the analysis. Priority vegetation types were identified by degree of endemicity, extent of protection and transformation, and degree of fragmentation. These priority vegetation types and threats to biodiversity were used to define broad linkages between existing protected areas. We set a goal of 10% protection for each vegetation type and 25% for each species. We identified several important (endemic or threatened) animal species and predicted their ranges using a simple model. Species ranges and their hotspots were compared with the distribution of protected areas and the suggested linkages to evaluate increased species representation. Generally, the eastern part of the study area was well protected. Unprotected conservation‐worthy areas under greatest threat lay in the west, and protecting these areas is a priority. Furthermore, several vegetation types were not protected by provincial authorities, a situation that also needs to be addressed. The findings of our study need to be reassessed at a finer land‐parcel scale, and implementation of a range of land‐use options considered.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 2000
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